Folk music -
Bayou Seco – aka Jeanie McLerie and Ken Keppeler –
are a very special duo who met in Louisiana in 1978, and moved
to New Mexico some years afterwards. “We play songs
from both regions,” says Jeannie, on the phone from
France. “We also play cowboy songs from Texas and Arizona.
Not Hollywood-style cowboy songs, the real ones. We have learnt
our songs from people who are a lot older than us. Many of
them are dead.”
“It’s not our fault,” chips in Ken, and
I realise I’m on speaker.
“A lot of the music we play is from places where they
never recorded 78’s,” he continues. “The
people who taught us the songs asked us to go out and play
them, because otherwise they might die out.” They are
both multi-talented musicians: generally Jeannie plays the
fiddle and Ken plays a diatonic accordion.
I ask them if they would consider themselves folk musicians.
“We do, in the traditional sense,” says Ken. “In
the States the term ‘folk’ is being hijacked by
35-year-old singer songwriters crying about losing their first
love. It breaks my heart.” This is the fifth time they
will have played at the Royal Oak. “We absolutely adore
the club,” says Ken. “Last week we played a big
concert in Minnesota, and we were told we had such a light
touch that it felt like we were playing to a small room of
people. Here we will be doing just that, but it’s a
frightening experience because the floor singers are so amazingly
talented they are a tough act to follow.” AL